Global hunger is a complex problem that affects millions of people around the world. According to United Nations statistics, in 2019, an estimated 690 million people were hungry, equivalent to 8.9% of the global population. That number has been increasing in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hunger is most prevalent in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In these areas, poverty, lack of access to resources such as land and water, and political instability are the main factors contributing to hunger. Climate change also exacerbates the problem, as extreme weather events such as droughts and floods damage crops and disrupt food systems.
While hunger remains a global problem, the devastating effects are localized, and in Nigeria, the effects are palpable for vulnerable Nigerians. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently warned that some 25 million Nigerians were at severe risk of starvation between June and August this year.
Protracted conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices are the main causes of hunger, according to the FAO. Currency devaluation has also been cited as a contributing factor to the problem. Continued terrorism in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, banditry and kidnapping in Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue and Niger states, FAO says activities, all impede access to food.
It also recalled that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that more than 676,000 hectares of farmland were destroyed by floods last year, leading to reduced harvests and increased food insecurity across Nigeria, increasing the risk of hunger. The U.N. agency’s Food and Agriculture Organization added that there could be worse weather patterns in the future, with an impact on hunger.
The aforementioned report also highlights how children are the most vulnerable to food insecurity. According to the report, six of Nigeria’s 17 million food-insecure citizens or children under the age of five live in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states. Acute malnutrition is associated with a significant risk of mortality in children. In BAY states alone (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe), the number of severely malnourished children is projected to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 to 2 million in 2023.
Matthias Schmale, FAO Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), working with the government and partners such as MSF and ALIMA, is investing in scaling up preventive nutrition interventions while ensuring vulnerable children have access to life-saving nutrition. Nutrition Services. He further stated: “The food security and nutrition situation in Nigeria is deeply worrying. I have visited nutritional stabilization centers full of children struggling to survive. We must act now to ensure that they and others get what they need life-saving support.”
Nigeria’s annual food inflation rate soared from 19.5% in May to 20.6% in June 2022 due to rising costs of basic commodities such as bread and grains, potatoes, yams, meat, fish, etc., according to the National Statistics Office. Using a “basic food cost” analysis that compares the minimum recommended monthly food expenditure per adult to average wages across 107 countries, the UK-based Development Institute also ranks Nigeria as the second poorest country in the world In terms of food affordability.
Other countries where basic food is most unaffordable include Syria, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia, Algeria, Iran, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka, which have been in turmoil for the past four months and whose presidents have been arrested. was forced to flee the country after weeks of protests against soaring prices for consumables. The minimum food intake recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to meet energy needs is based on 12-14 basic foods that add up to an equivalent of 2,100 calories per day for an adult.
What can mitigate the danger of this extreme hunger? Funding support is urgently needed. Beyond funding, our agriculture and food systems need to be revitalized and transformed to, among other things, provide better nutrition. Increased efforts by all stakeholders are needed to increase food self-sufficiency and nutrition levels. In addition to providing people with food, it is important to provide them with the nutrients they need to live healthy lives.
Additionally, Nigeria has been dealing with security issues, especially in the North-East and Central Belt regions. This has also had an impact on agriculture in these areas, as many people are unable to plant or harvest crops. If all these safety concerns are properly addressed, the high risk of starvation can be reduced.
Famine and starvation are also caused by the effects of climate change. Climate change is the term used to describe the long-term rise in atmospheric temperature. How does climate change affect the supply of food? Floods and droughts brought on by climate change are making food production more difficult. Erratic rainfall patterns can also seriously hamper the local food industry. As a result, access to food has become increasingly restricted and more expensive, increasing the likelihood that many will go hungry.
Burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil releases greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere and is a major contributor to climate change. Without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will dramatically increase hunger and famine, especially in the world’s poorest regions.
It is also important to remember that the first step in stopping the spread of severe food shortages is to start growing food where it is most needed. In rural areas where people are coping with severe food insecurity, preventing hunger and famine must start there. Food should be grown where it is needed most, and animal survival should come first. This helps stabilize and increase local food production to prevent famine outbreaks.
In more remote rural areas, the importance of local and backyard food production to sustain a family’s livelihood cannot be overemphasized. The importance of keeping livestock cannot be overemphasized. Plus, drinking just one glass of milk a day can make the difference between life and death.
- Daniel Ighakpe is writing from Lagos.
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